After a life-changing accident in 2008, Cat Kozuch was inspired to create Believe a Buddy, an adorable teddy bear designed to inspire children with the power of positive affirmations. “Believe a Buddy was born from my desire to share my triumph and inspire children facing their own challenges,” says Kozuch. Read on to discover the profound impact Believe a Buddy is making and Kozuch’s vision for its future.
Can you tell us about your journey and the life-altering experience that led to creating Believe a Buddy? In April 2008, I was a sophomore at Arizona State University when I was involved in a tragic dune buggy accident during a vacation in Rocky Point, Mexico. The driver lost control of the vehicle while navigating steep dunes, severely injuring my T7-T8 vertebra, a crucial part of the ribcage. I endured a grueling 24-hour wait for transportation to a Phoenix hospital, during which my vertebrae shattered into my spinal cord. Following a six-hour surgery, I was informed that I would never walk again. I spent months in a wheelchair but refused to accept this prognosis. I distinctly remember challenging the doctor who delivered this news, silently shouting, ‘Who are you to tell me I’ll never do something again?’
How did your recovery journey play a role in its creation? Rather than accepting my diagnosis, I started writing affirmations on my hospital whiteboard and dedicated time to focusing on these affirmations and my goals. After weeks of vocalizing my affirmations, a moment of frustration led to me passionately urging my big toe to move. To my amazement, it responded ever so slightly. With the support of these affirmations and three months of intense physical therapy, I walked out of the hospital. Believe a Buddy was born from my desire to share my triumph and inspire children facing their own challenges. By harnessing the power of affirmations and the comforting companionship of teddy bears, Believe a Buddy helps children believe in themselves, just as I did during my hospitalization.
Could you tell us about the heartfelt tradition with your father that led to the idea of an affirmation teddy bear? During my three-month hospital stay, my father, who was frequently away for work, would bring me a new teddy bear with each visit. When visitors left my hospital room, it was just me, the sterile white walls and my deep contemplations about life with my physical injury and how to regain my former self. At 19 years old, these teddy bears became my cherished companions during moments of sadness and longing for my family, friends and my previous life. These teddy bears surrounded the whiteboard with affirmations and played a significant role in my healing journey. The combination of inspirational affirmations and the teddy bears from my father led to the creation of Believe a Buddy.
How does Believe a Buddy work to shift negative thinking patterns in children and promote positivity and mindfulness? Believe a Buddy comprises 52 affirmation cards. Children select a card, vocalize the affirmation and then store it in the bear’s belly for future repetition. These affirmations are potent tools that bolster self-confidence and counteract negativity in children’s minds by hearing and echoing these affirmations.
Can you elaborate on the impact you envision this toy having on children’s lives? Not every child is fortunate to grow up in an environment that nurtures a positive mindset. My vision for Believe a Buddy is to empower children to believe in themselves and their abilities through positive affirmations. I firmly believe that every child possesses the potential for greatness. By instilling self-confidence and positivity at a young age, Believe a Buddy can help children overcome challenges, cultivate resilience and ultimately become strong, confident individuals.
What was the thought process behind the design of Believe a Buddy, including features like its perpetually positioned arms, stars on the paws and the heart of gold at the center of the belly? Every aspect of Believe a Buddy carries deep significance. The bear’s outstretched arms symbolize its readiness to provide warm and comforting hugs. The stars on its paws act as conduits, channeling the magical power of spoken affirmations. The heart of gold at its core ensures this magic is infused with boundless love.
Lastly, could you tell us your goals and aspirations for Believe a Buddy? I’m thrilled to announce that I have a Believe a Buddy children’s book ready for publication, along with many exciting projects in the works to expand the Believe a Buddy brand, including a nonprofit initiative called Believe a Buddy, Receive a Buddy.
To learn more about Believe a Buddy, visit believeabuddy.com.